By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Photo Credit: Esa Alexander.
The state capture commission has heard how the State Security Agency spent millions on projects, including influencing the outcome of former President Jacob Zuma’s cases, testing his food for toxins and infiltrating the media.
This came as Mufamadi took the stand and testified on allegations of wrongdoing within the intelligence agency at the state capture commission, with special focus on the SO.
Mufamadi’s panel report had found that there had, over the past decade, been a growing politicisation of the SSA and South Africa’s civilian intelligence community based on the factions in the ANC.
Mufamadi had described the SO within the SSA as having been a law unto itself and served the political interests of the executive under Zuma through various projects.
According to Mufamadi, his panel had learnt of "Project Commitment" of the unit, whose alleged purpose was for the financial upkeep of Zuma, with millions being covertly channelled in cash to him though former SSA minister David Mahlobo, for two years.
Mufamadi said there was an identifiable individual agent for each of the operations, who "went to the window" to receive money disbursed for the project and that the panel had secured representations from the agent who was responsible for Zuma’s funds.
"We were told that the project involved providing the then president with R2.5 million per month in the 2015/16 financial year and this amount was increased to R4.5 million per month in the 2016/17 financial year," he said.
He said that the panel, however, had not received proof that Mahlobo had indeed given the funds to Zuma.
Mufamadi said the panel had found that the SO had initiated counter operations against President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign, as well as infiltrated and weakened the "Zuma must fall" campaign in 2016.
Another project of the SO, "Project Justice", was allegedly aimed at influencing the outcomes of cases against Zuma through the recruitment and handling of judges through bribes.
"Information provided to the panel indicated that amounts of R1.2 million and R4.5 million were routinely given from SSA and provided to Mahlobo, who it is said was responsible for handling these sources. The panel was told that the project was necessitated by a perceived need to counter the influence of judges hostile to Zuma, "Mufamadi said.
Another SO project was allegedly hatched up with a R24 million budget by the SSA to infiltrate and influence the media, dubbed "Project Wave", and had been set up in a bid to counter bad publicity for Zuma and the country, in SA and abroad.
Mufamadi’s panel had also learnt how the SSA controversially provided a safe house, protection and funds for his upkeep to former apartheid operative Eugene de Kock after he was released from prison, where he served time for his apartheid crimes.
He said the panel had also noted that a proclamation by Zuma, to establish the SSA as a ministry in 2009, had triggered a doctrinal shift within the intelligence agency, adding that it was part of the deliberate repurposing of the SSA and enabled secrecy and wrongdoing.
Mufamadi said a further probe was important on the allegations, but warned that some of the operations could have been a ruse for moneymaking undertakings.
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the evidence told to Mufamadi’s panel was concerning, but pointed out that the commission had been confronted with serious allegations of financial propriety, which were difficult to prove.